Are we beginning to commend ourselves(A) again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation(B) to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.(C) You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,(D) not on tablets of stone(E) but on tablets of human hearts.(F)

Such confidence(G) we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves(H) to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.(I) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant(J)—not of the letter(K) but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.(L)

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death,(M) which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory,(N) transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation(O) was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!(P) 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope,(Q) we are very bold.(R) 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face(S) to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull,(T) for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant(U) is read.(V) It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord,(W) the veil is taken away.(X) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,(Y) and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(Z) 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a](AA) the Lord’s glory,(AB) are being transformed into his image(AC) with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflect

Present Weakness and Resurrection Life

Therefore, since through God’s mercy(A) we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.(B) Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;(C) we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.(D) On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience(E) in the sight of God. And even if our gospel(F) is veiled,(G) it is veiled to those who are perishing.(H) The god(I) of this age(J) has blinded(K) the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ,(L) who is the image of God.(M) For what we preach is not ourselves,(N) but Jesus Christ as Lord,(O) and ourselves as your servants(P) for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a](Q) made his light shine in our hearts(R) to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.(S)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay(T) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God(U) and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side,(V) but not crushed; perplexed,(W) but not in despair; persecuted,(X) but not abandoned;(Y) struck down, but not destroyed.(Z) 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,(AA) so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.(AB) 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,(AC) so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.(AD)

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b](AE) Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith,(AF) we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead(AG) will also raise us with Jesus(AH) and present us with you to himself.(AI) 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving(AJ) to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart.(AK) Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly(AL) we are being renewed(AM) day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.(AN) 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,(AO) since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:6 Gen. 1:3
  2. 2 Corinthians 4:13 Psalm 116:10 (see Septuagint)
  3. 2 Corinthians 4:13 Or Spirit-given

Awaiting the New Body

For we know that if the earthly(A) tent(B) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan,(C) longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,(D) because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan(E) and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,(F) so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.(G)

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight.(H) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.(I) So we make it our goal to please him,(J) whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us(K) for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,(L) we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.(M) 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again,(N) but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us,(O) so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,”(P) as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.(Q) 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves(R) but for him who died for them(S) and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly(T) point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,(U) the new creation(V) has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!(W) 18 All this is from God,(X) who reconciled us to himself through Christ(Y) and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.(Z) And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,(AA) as though God were making his appeal through us.(AB) We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.(AC) 21 God made him who had no sin(AD) to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(AE)

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Or Christ, that person is a new creation.
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Or be a sin offering

As God’s co-workers(A) we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.(B) For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a](C)

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s Hardships

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path,(D) so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments(E) and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;(F) in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit(G) and in sincere love;(H) in truthful speech(I) and in the power of God;(J) with weapons of righteousness(K) in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor,(L) bad report(M) and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;(N) known, yet regarded as unknown; dying,(O) and yet we live on;(P) beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;(Q) poor, yet making many rich;(R) having nothing,(S) and yet possessing everything.(T)

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.(U) 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children(V)—open wide your hearts(W) also.

Warning Against Idolatry

14 Do not be yoked together(X) with unbelievers.(Y) For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?(Z) 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]?(AA) Or what does a believer(AB) have in common with an unbeliever?(AC) 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?(AD) For we are the temple(AE) of the living God.(AF) As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”[c](AG)

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them(AH)
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”[d](AI)

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,(AJ)
says the Lord Almighty.”[e](AK)

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 6:2 Isaiah 49:8
  2. 2 Corinthians 6:15 Greek Beliar, a variant of Belial
  3. 2 Corinthians 6:16 Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27
  4. 2 Corinthians 6:17 Isaiah 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41
  5. 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8

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